Posts Tagged ‘Award-Winning Author’

The lyrics, “I’m so excited” by the Pointer Sisters, keep randomly popping into my head when I remember seeing my name in the September 2014 issue of Romance Writers Report. Listed as a finalist in the Touch of Magic contest for single title, I’m now an award-winning author. Woo-Hoo! Synergy was submitted before my editor convinced me to turn it into book one of a series. Okay, I have to say it one more time. Woo-Hoo!!!

 

 

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Blink. Another year has gone by. Seriously, when did that happen? I know I’ve been busy but… oh wait, that’s right, I’m writing like crazy.

I know, I know, I said I was close to publishing, over a year ago. What happened? Well, nothing bad if that’s what you’re thinking. My fabulous editor pulled me aside and asked if I planned to turn Synergy into a series. Well, no not really… but I know better now. When I’m not writing in my spare time, I’m researching the self-publishing industry. Most successful indie authors suggest writing a series and not publishing until you have three books ready.

So, I went home and did some serious thinking about how to turn this into a series. And once I came up with the idea of the U-District series, my brain wouldn’t turn off, and I mean literally. I’ve written over 70k words of the second novel, Obscurity, and over 30k words of the third novel, Supremacy. The secondary characters in book one, flow in to book two, and in to book three. Each novel is a romantic mystery that stands on its own; however, the series has an underlying theme of family.

I’m editing Synergy now. Once that’s in the hands of my editor, I’ll be putting my cover together with a fabulous graphics artist. I am beyond excited at this point.

#1  Synergy

  • Who knew a college dropout forced to become CEO, could lead to murder?

#2  Obscurity

  • Who knew writing a poem about a famous country singer, could be so dangerous?

#3  Supremacy

  • Who knew fighting off a serial killer, could heal the heart?

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Wow, it’s been a while since my last blog post, yet it seems like yesterday. This past year has gone by so fast. I’ve enjoyed time with my family, working full-time with wonderful co-workers, preparing for publication in my spare time, and recently elected President of my local RWA Chapter.

This past October, I attended my third conference at Emerald City Writers Conference. My critique partner and I took advantage of every workshop and networking with fellow authors, agents, and editors. From seven a.m. to midnight every day, was jammed packed full of learning and fun. When you do something you are passionate about, the best word choice to describe it is F. U. N.

Three years ago, I didn’t know a single author… today I’ve met hundreds of them. Just let me say, they are the best group of women and men I have ever met. Authors are eager to share their knowledge and provide support where no one else can. After all, only an author can understand, hearing voices doesn’t mean schizophrenia.

I’ve been diligently learning the craft of writing and attending other workshops like Mary Buckham’s Active Settings and Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing online series. Mystery versus suspense is an area I’ve had to learn the difference between. I’ve found I want to write stories that are somewhere in-between. Mysteries are slower paced, paying attention to detail as clues are unveiled. Suspense is fast paced constant in-the-seat-of-your-pants action. On top of that, I throw in a romance between the hero and heroine. Since I’m not one to follow the rules—so much as understanding why there are rules to begin with—I’ve created novels that I call romantic suspense with an air of mystery.  I like the surprises and whodunit aspect of mysteries yet, I crave a bit of fast-paced action. You’ll get both in my novels.

Since my first manuscript was complete, I decided to edit my third stand alone novel, Synergy, for publication first. With the heart of an entrepreneur, Indie publication (independent self-publishing) was my first choice. Not because I don’t want traditionally publishing someday, but because I want control over my work and want to see where I can take it. This past month, I had my first photo shoot to get a head shot (see About the Author page) for my blog, book covers, and social media. My daughter accompanied me and we had an absolute blast. The pictures turned out wonderful, depicting an air of romance and suspense. Believe me when I say, I wish I could look that good on a daily basis.

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A major shout out: I finished editing my first manuscript!

In April, I signed up for “Beginnings: Your Submissions” an online workshop. Janice, a freelance editor at http://www.documentdriven.com/, helped me put together an excellent query letter and synopsis. She also read the first three chapters of my romantic mystery suspense called Seeing Double. She offered excellent feedback and between her insight and Angela James instruction, I completely threw out the first two chapters (info dumps). The story starts where the action takes place, thus making it more interesting.

My eagerness to start editing was thwarted by a ski accident on Mt. Baker. Other than complete embarrassment falling face first into three feet of powder under the chair lift, I felt fine and knew I’d feel the aftermath later. The next night my muscles stiffened up while curled in my cozy reading chair. No big deal, right? Just take some ibuprofen and go to bed. I felt better in the morning until I made the mistake of standing up. That’s when the dizziness and nausea took over. I came out of the hospital that evening diagnosed with a mild concussion. The absolute worst part for me was losing my long-term memory. I couldn’t even remember the name of a woman who has worked for me for eight years. Talk about scary! I now have great respect for anyone who suffers from Alzheimer’s and knows they are losing their precious memories. It was the most frightening experience I’ve ever been through. Thankfully, the trauma to my head receded after three very long weeks. Hey, what happened to the month of May?

Once I started editing again, I added layers to my characters and setting, deeper POV, and hacked away much unneeded dialog and storyline that doesn’t propel the story forward. This is the “kill your darling” phase of editing. I loved it and hated it at the same time. The word count dropped from 95k to 82k. I’d say that’s a bit of editing.

Now, I’m done enough to take it to the next level. Critique partners, here I come… but first I need to celebrate and prepare myself for the next wave of editing with a Brandy Alexander and dark chocolate!

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Body parts gone wild!  Have I got your attention  now?  This was one of my favorite sessions in the online editing workshop Before You Hit Send.

Angela James is the Executive Editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first press, and offers her insights into common editing mistakes.  If you’ve never worked with an editor or publisher before, this workshop is extremely insightful. I met Angela at the Emerald City Writers Conference when I won an early bird pitch for my romantic suspense, Seeing Double, a Harper Security novel.

I enjoyed Angela’s humor throughout the course and she is honest when you post examples from your manuscript.  What was once considered good writing style or grammar back when we were in school is not the case today.

The course is self-paced over a three-week period. You can register for the next workshop at  http://nicemommy-evileditor.com/before-you-hit-send/

So, what am I doing now?  Why editing of course.  I’ve already removed the first chapter (info dump) and hacked away another 3000 words.  I’m converting passive to active, getting rid of unneeded adverbs and adjectives, making sure my dialogue tags are correct… there’s so much more.  I’m loving every minute of it!

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At the Emerald City RWA Conference in Seattle, I attended a first time author’s panel. Two newly published authors said they were unable to get their books published until they read Save the Cat!® by Blake Snyder.

As funny as the name of the book sounds, it’s an equally funny read. In his humorous way, Blake explains the fundamentals of screenwriting that keeps you turning the page. These principles directly relate to fiction such as structure, plot, scenes, show versus tell, arch’s, etc.

Although I’m a pantser (see my earlier post), I plan to adopt his model outlining the beats that must take place to launch a successful movie/book. While he uses a cork board to map out the scenes within the acts, I’ve setup a spreadsheet to do this for me. As a pantser, I won’t plot this all out before I start writing, but I’ll use it to fill in my scenes to see what’s missing.

I am highly impressed with this book and refer back to it often. Save the Cat!® is a recommended read on Nicholas Sparks’ website as he converted his own books to screenplays for the big screen. Can I strive to by Nicholas Sparks some day? Sure, why not!

For you author’s out there, what method do you find works best for plotting out your story idea? Do you do it electronically, on a whiteboard, or plaster sticky notes all over the wall?

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I recently found out I’m a pantser!  What in the world is that, you may ask?

No, I don’t like to pull down strangers pants for fun and I’m definitely not a German tank.  In the context of writing, a pantser is an author who writes what comes to mind (“by the seat of your pants”) versus plotting ahead of time (outlining).  Apparently, this term was coined by NaNoWriMo.org (National Novel Writing Month).

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he  indicates he writes what’s in his head, not always knowing where his characters will take him.  An outcome he originally visualizes usually ends up unexpected.  This is similar to the way I write.  I see a scene in my head that may start in the middle, end, or beginning of the novel.   I write several key scenes, never in order, and the characters develop their personalities as each situation unfolds.

Once the story unravels, I’ll write a basic outline and add bullets points of what scene/character/point of view I should add between the ones I’ve already written.  I love writing this way and was happy to find out I don’t have to plot the entire story before I start writing.  If I had to do this, I would never start.

When asked who was a pantser in our last local RWA chapter meeting, only three in the entire room raised our hands.  So, I’m in the minority.  As long as I keep writing, I proudly accept my title as a pantser.

For you authors out there, are you a pantser or a planner or somewhere in-between?

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